Saturday,21 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1144, 18 - 24 April 2013
Saturday,21 October, 2017
Issue 1144, 18 - 24 April 2013

Ahram Weekly

Fan ban

Egyptian spectators have once again been prevented from attending local, Arab and regional football matches following a series of acts of hooliganism in home stadiums, Inas Mazhar reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

The presence of Egyptian football fans in Egyptian stadiums was very brief. After attending some select matches of this year’s league season, they were banned again for instigating mini-riots and causing material damage to the stadiums. This time the decision came from the minister of sports, not from the minister of interior was the case before. Egyptian State Minister of Sports Al-Amri Farouk announced that fans will not be allowed to attend any local, regional or continental matches in the future. The decision was published in a statement on the official website of the Ministry of Sports. The statement said that the decision to ban fans was to protect and help ensure the safety and security of the fans, teams and facilities. It did not say when the decision might be reversed and did not include any clues about fans attending international Egyptian matches like the second round of the World Cup qualifiers on 9 June against Zimbabwe.
The past two weeks have seen unruly behaviour from Egyptian fans in several regional matches. At the Defence Military Stadium, Ismaili fans invaded the pitch of this new stadium following their team’s loss to the Algerian team Ittihad Al-Asima in the Arab Champions League. Ismaili was fined LE375,000.
A restricted number of fans attending both Ahli and Zamalek’s African Champions League clashes sent off fireworks, threatening the lives of both fans and teams.
The biggest problem was at Ahli’s recent match against Kenya’s Tusker in Borg Al-Arab Stadium. The Ahli Ultras entered the stadium carrying banners and flags opposing the Egyptian Armed Forces as well as chanting against them in what appeared to be well rehearsed formations. The Ultras then went on to uproot third class stand seats.
The violence provoked the army which had agreed to open its Military Stadium to football matches and allowed from 3,000 to 10,000 fans to games in coordination with the police and security forces. After it was reported that Ahli administration appeared to have known beforehand of the Ultras plans, the army refused to allow Ahli play in its stadiums, putting the club in a dilemma.
Local matches started to be played behind closed doors after the Port Said tragedy of last year when 72 fans, mainly Ahli supporters, were killed in a soccer riot during a league match. Although 19 people received the death penalty for the massacre, the Ultras of Ahli still hold a grudge against the military which was effectively in charge of the country at the time of the massacre following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak as president in the 2011 revolution.
Investigations by Ahli showed that the club’s manager Mahmoud Allam had allowed the Ultras to rehearse at the club’s facilities but that these were dress rehearsals for cheering on the team. Allam said he agreed to allow them to practice for three days. He confirmed they did not use banners against the army or the police, adding they were also allowed to wave posters of those who died in Port Said.
He said he was responsible and was to be held accountable and as such he presented his resignation to the Ahli board. Allam said he did not know what the procedures would be against Tunisia’s Al-Benzarti, Ahli’s next oppnents in round 16 of the African championship.

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